by Sheila Chapman
Lover of Hummingbirds
Dad was an animal and bird lover, and after a rocky start as a father, that man became the most respected, most important person in my family’s life and here is a story for you, a true story.
My little family emigrated from the UK in the summer of 1980 leaving my estranged father in the UK. We had not spoken in a long time but over the next while we slowly became friends.
Dad was a veteran, having served alongside his father and his younger brother, all three at D-Day, Juno Beach, till Dad was shot in the leg. Forever to be known as the Grandpa with a hole in his leg, he was even dragged to Show and Tell, at school proudly showing off the “hole.” lol
He was a hard man probably because of all he had seen and done.
Dad would visit Canada as often as he could and he became obsessed with his hummingbirds, or at least trying to photograph them.
He would sit motionless in his porch chair, cup of tea in hand, trying to catch a glimpse of these elusive birds and woe betide any grandchild or pet that got in the way.
The back deck had a beautiful array of feeders, all filled fresh daily with nectar. He even bought hummingbird plants and flowers that he thought would attract these birds, planting them around the patio.
Dad’s mum was a well-known medium in the UK and he taught his grandchildren how to use the Tarot, how to tell fortunes and to read the Tea leaves. He regaled us all for hours at an end with his lovely stories.
We always hated to let him go after his visits. Poor Dad He would stay for six months loving our summers, shirt off watching the hummingbirds.
It was 2009 that we got that dreaded phone call from the UK, Dad had passed and being his executor, I left straight away for the UK. Walking into his flat that early April morning was so hard with no Dad there making me a cup of tea.
At his funeral I read a poem I had written saying how much easier it would be for him to visit now. No flights or insurance to pay for and he could now visit anytime. How important he had become to me and my family. How much we loved him and how hummingbird watching would never be the same.
Amongst his meagre belongings was a little photo album filled with his pictures of Hummingbirds.
As I prepared for my return home, I told my girls to come visit for tea and some cake the morning after my flight.
It was, by then, late April, still cold and even snowy in Ontario. Spring still seemed a long way off as we gathered that morning. Really just to be together, to acknowledge Dads life and to feel the closeness we needed to share.
Tears of course, mingled with laughter as we remembered.
And then, as we heard first one tap, then another on the glass of our picture window, as a tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird tried to make his way in.
On that snowy cold, late April day in 2009, a tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird was asking to join us for a cup of tea. LOL
Now some would say that is was purely coincidence.
But me… I keep the feeders full… just in case.
Thank you for listening.